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AEDs: Using Technology to Save Lives

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October 01, 2005
Lifesaving | Technology
Todd Throckmorton - todd@hospitalitylawyer.com

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© 2005 Hospitality Upgrade. No reproduction without written permission.


On May 10 a guest of the Hotel del Coronado became ill while at the hotel’s Sheerwater restaurant. When the female appeared to be suffering from a heart attack, a waiter called hotel security for medical assistance. Two security officers responded and found the guest unconscious and with only a slight pulse. Both were able to initiate cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and then were able to connect one of the hotel’s newly installed automated external defibrillators (AED). After delivering three shocks to the victim, she regained her pulse and was breathing. The Coronado Fire Department and Coronado Police arrived and took over medical assistance before transporting the victim via ambulance to Sharp Coronado Hospital. In this case, like many, AED training proved to be very beneficial.

We often discuss the benefits of technology and how it is used to improve the customer experience, train employees, sell services or products and improve the bottom line, but what better way to utilize technology than to save a life? If you have not done so already, it is time to familiarize yourself, research and implement AEDs (automated external defibrillators) at your property. Whether you are a restaurant, small hotel, resort, national chain, country club or cruise ship, an AED is a must have life saving system for your operation.

AEDs are so important that in April 2001 the Federal Aviation Administration issued a mandate requiring that all commercial airlines carry defibrillators. In addition, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International has advised its members, which include hotels and sports arenas, that they can benefit from obtaining defibrillators and training employees to use them as part of a public access defibrillation program.

It has been stated that CPR will maintain a life while an AED will save a life. Having the equipment is only 50 percent of the solution—thus operators must continue to incorporate and train their staff on CPR while implementing a public access defibrillation program.

AEDs are easy to use, maintain and operate, and all AEDs approved for use in the United States have the capability to use a synthesized voice to prompt users through each step. Because the user of an AED may be deaf or hard of hearing, many AEDs now include a screen to provide visual prompts and most AED units today are designed for use by non-medical operators.

With the Good Samaritan laws under which any person who, in good faith, gives first aid or emergency assistance at the scene of an accident cannot be liable for providing emergency care, the liability is minimal. Many states are now expanding these laws to authorize the use of automated external defibrillators as emergency medical treatment, while The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survival Act signed into law in May of 2000, extends Good Samaritan protection in those states that do not have such a provision in place.

Who Should Be Involved with AED Planning?
If you are an independent operator, discuss with your management staff, legal counsel and insurance provider an outline and plan of action to implement a public access defibrillation program. Companies such as Philips Medical Systems provide consulting services in addition to supplying AEDs. In addition, the National Center for Early Defibrillation (NCED, http://www.early-defib.org), an independent non-profit center dedicated to improving survival from sudden cardiac arrest is available as an excellent resource center. NCED provides comprehensive information on the use of AEDs for the public and emergency medical professionals. The center also provides a comprehensive Web site containing resources about defibrillation, a toll-free telephone number for information about how to place AEDs in public venues, AED program consultation and a full range of resource materials.

For national chains or larger corporations, the corporate risk manager, general counsel, human resources director and operations manager should all be involved in developing the training program, AED selection and placement throughout each property.

As a reminder, the typical 911 call takes two minutes to place, typical response by EMT is six to nine minutes, and each minute that passes without defibrillation decreases the survivability of the victim by 7 percent to 10 percent.

Where Should AEDs Be Placed?
AEDs convenient delivery systems allow for mobile and stationary placement throughout a facility to support the three-to-five minute response time recommended by the American Heart Association. Wherever your AEDs are placed, they should be visible and easily accessible. Some key areas to place AEDs in your facility would be:
  • In high traffic, highly populated areas
  • With security guards
  • With emergency response teams
  • In remote locations within your facilities (i.e. - bathrooms on golf courses)
  • In onsite fitness facilities
  • In banquet and meeting facilities
  • In common or reception areas

AEDs cover every aspect of business in the hospitality industry and not only is it the responsible way to operate as a hospitality entity, it is easy to implement; much easier than installing a new POS or property management system. Finally, confirm with your legal counsel and insurance provider as to how an AED may limit your premises liability.

The incident at the Hotel del Coronado is just one of many. It is best to be proactive rather than wait for an incident to happen on your property. Ensure your guests’ safety and satisfaction while visiting your property; implement a public access defibrillation program today.

Todd N. Throckmorton is vice president of HospitalityLawyer.com, a Web site of legal safety and security solutions for the hospitality industry. He can be reached at (512) 266-1260 or todd@hospitalitylawyer.com.

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